Lithium miner Pilbara Minerals and steelmaker POSCO have finalised a joint venture (JV) for the development of a downstream lithium chemicals facility in South Korea’s Gwanyang province.

According to the agreement, the firms will jointly construct and operate the lithium hydroxide monohydrate (LHM) conversion facility.

With a 43,000tpa capacity, the conversion facility will comprise two production trains, each with a 21,500tpa LHM capacity.

Estimated to cost around $750m, the facility will feature POSCO’s patented purification technology, which will be licensed to the JV on a non-exclusive basis.

Pilbara will own 18% of the joint venture, which will be named POSCO-Pilbara Minerals Lithium Solution Co.

The lithium miner will also have the option to increase its stake in the JV to 30%, for up to 18 months following the production growth at the facility.

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Construction of the project is planned to start by March 2022, with its opening expected in the second half of 2023.

Under an amended offtake agreement, Pilbara agreed to supply 315,000tpa of spodumene concentrate to the conversation facility from its Pilgangoora Project.

The Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project is located approximately 120km south of Port Hedland, Pilbara, Western Australia.

The facility is expected to support POSCO’s strategic aim of becoming one of the largest battery materials producers in South Korea.

Pilbara Minerals managing director and CEO Ken Brinsden said: “This joint venture will give Pilbara Minerals significant exposure to one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing markets for lithium chemicals.”